Clogged drains spelling disaster for your commercial kitchen?
As a restaurant owner, you know a jammed pipe can turn service into a soggy mess. Constant heavy use makes commercial kitchen drains prone to greasy build-up and food debris blockages. Bidding farewell to the headaches of slowed or stopped-up sinks is as easy as understanding what causes clogs.
In this article, we’ll outline the top troublemakers when it comes to commercial drain obstructions. With each culprit, we’ll introduce some simple maintenance habits you can adopt to keep your kitchen pipes flowing smoothly, saving you from disruptions and costly repairs. Let’s go ahead and clear the causes of clogs so you can avoid backups and keep your restaurant open for business!
One of the most significant causes of clogs in a commercial kitchen drain is FOG—fats, oils, and grease. The fats and oils used in cooking inevitably end up going down the sink, coating the inside of the pipes with slick and sticky residue.
Over time, these fatty deposits accumulate and solidify into blockages that obstruct water flow. Without proper grease control, you’ll start noticing slowed drains, gurgling sounds, and even sewage backups as pipes get clogged.
To combat FOG buildup:
- Install grease traps or interceptors to catch grease before it enters the sewer lines. Properly maintain the interceptors regularly to prevent clogged units.
- Never pour fryer oil or other liquid fats down sinks. Allow grease to cool and solidify before disposing in the trash. Scrape plates and cookware thoroughly before washing to remove fat residue.
- Consider using enzyme or bacterial additives designed to digest grease, like bio-enzymatic drain cleaners. They help break down grease and keep drains clear.
By training your staff to build grease control habits, you can avoid costly clogs, prevent fines from your local sewer treatment plant, and keep water flowing freely through your commercial kitchen drains and pipes.
Throughout the busy restaurant day, bits of food waste will end up going down the sinks. Food scraps washed off dirty dishes, utensils, pots, and pans all contribute to buildup in the pipes. Things like coffee grounds, rice, pasta, eggshells, and small chunks of produce quickly accumulate in the drains. Over time, this debris collects and forms significant obstructions, impeding water flow.
To prevent food particle clogs:
- Install sink strainers to catch solids before they go down the drain. Empty strainers frequently.
- Avoid dumping large food scraps directly into sinks. Compost vegetable peels, shells, and bones if possible.
- Set up a dry waste container near the dishwashing area to dispose of food debris instead of washing it down the drain.
- Routinely use a drain-clearing enzyme or microbial product to help break down and dissolve organic matter.
With attentive habits to keep food out of the pipes, your drains will stay clear and run at full capacity. Your plumbers and bank account will thank you!
Tree and plant roots pose another insidious threat to just about any drain line. Roots seek out any available water source, including the moisture in sewer pipes. Over time, tenacious root systems can find their way into the minor cracks and joints of exterior drainage pipes.
Once inside, the roots flourish in the damp environment. As they multiply, they form dense root balls (see video above) that obstruct water flow and eventually cause complete blockages. Signs of root intrusion include slowed drains and sewage backups, especially during dry weather when roots seek moisture aggressively.
To manage root problems:
- Inspect the exterior drain lines periodically for visible root intrusion through joints or cracks. Address any issues immediately.
- Use chemical root killers designed for sewer lines to destroy roots and inhibit regrowth. Apply annually as preventive maintenance.
- For severe root infestation, replacement or lining of affected drainage lines may be necessary.
With vigilant inspection and preventive root treatment, you can avoid extensive drain damage and service interruptions from uncontrolled root growth.
Improper Garbage Disposal Use
Garbage disposals provide a convenient way to get rid of food waste in the kitchen. However, they can easily be overused, leading to clogged pipes. Coffee grounds, eggshells, fibrous vegetable peels, and other small food scraps quickly accumulate in drains when washed down disposals. While disposals are designed to grind up bits of debris, excess waste overloads the capacity of the drain lines.
To prevent clogs from disposal overuse:
- Avoid putting starchy foods like rice, pasta or potatoes down the disposal, as they can swell and stick to pipes.
- Run plenty of cold water before, during and after using the disposal to flush the waste through.
- Use drain screens to catch any larger particles the disposal doesn’t thoroughly grind up.
- Regularly maintain disposals by cleaning and deodorizing.
With proper habits and moderation in disposal use, your kitchen plumbing can manage the additional waste volume smoothly. Take care of your disposals and drain lines, and they’ll keep your food waste out of sight and out of mind.
Clogged drains constantly plague commercial kitchens, but knowledge is power when it comes to preventive maintenance.
By controlling grease buildup, avoiding food scrap accumulation, and using enzymatic cleaners, you can keep pipes clear. Invest in grease traps, strainers, and routine professional drain cleaning. By building all these good habits, you can dodge slow drains and back-ups. Understanding the root causes (pun intended) of clogs allows you to keep your kitchen pipes and drains flowing smoothly and your business safely open.
We hope this information has convinced you to refrain from taking your kitchen drains and what passes through them for granted. If you have any questions about drains and grease interceptors and what materials are most appropriate for your use, please contact us today. We are always happy to help!